What I'm Seeing Now

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Is It Working? We Report, You Decide

Oftentimes older houses have older chimneys which are no longer used or needed.  So they cap them off. 

In this case the idea was apparently to cover the chimney, and divert water, but still leave the chimney the ability to breath.

From outside the house I saw it and wondered if it was working.

I doubted it.

Inside the house, in the office, a part of the wall had been removed to expose this chimney's brick work as a decorative part of the wall.

That worked pretty well?

But the question remains, does this cap function as intended?

Is it working?  We report, you decide.

This is the view I got of the clean out port in the cellar.

Um, it seems pretty full!

Even where mortar was missing and I could see into the chimney (very old and no flue liner) it was obvious this chimney was very full!  This port is a good 30' from the top of this chimney!

I think this chimney has been unused for many years.

This cap does not keep out critters either, but I am betting there is not much room inside there for anything to live comfortably.

Squirrels, et al, are pretty ingenious about setting up their houses though!  It might be a very nice place in there!

And yes, if you're asking, that TV antenna is no longer used and should be removed as it is a lightning rod at this point.  Those small ground lines sometimes attached to them would not do much to divert a lightning strike!  In this case, where wasn't even that ground line, that I could see!

My recommendation:  when you cover a chimney, a metal, grilled cap is best practice.  That keeps out water, which is THE killer of chimneys, but also animals and debris.  Makeshift covers of the sort pictured here are often not useful.

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 21 commentsJay Markanich • June 21 2012 03:17AM

Comments

Hi Jay,

At least it has a cap of some sort.

Here only about 20% of homes with a chimney actually have a cap, arrestor or protection of any kind.

I'm always writing this stuff up.

Have a good day and very good shots.

Best, clint McKie 

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 6 years ago

Good morning Jay whats that I hear you are against the squirrels and other animals from having housing... Shame, shame on you they just want free housing as do some human beings.  :~)  Enjoy the day

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) over 6 years ago

I don't know what the percentage of caps is here Clint, but lots don't have anything, for sure!

James - wouldn't be a problem if they paid a little rent.  Now, Julius Squeezer is obviously earning his keep.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Jay, Did you just toss a match in that port to clean out the chimney after the inspection was done?  It's "fire-proof', right??

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) over 6 years ago

That would surely have cleaned out the flue Bliz, but it might have cleaned out the house too!  Who knows how many gaps and cracks exist up inside those old walls!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Good morning Jay. I am seeing bats and squirrels loving the entry they have installed for them. Yikes.

Posted by Randy Ostrander, Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI (Lake and Lodge Realty LLC ) over 6 years ago

I've seen two houses completely destroyed when fire came through missing chinks in the chimneys.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 6 years ago

Jay, another great post. Your is one of two blogs I look for first everyday. How much of a fire hazard is that chimney?

Posted by Tom Bailey (Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc.) over 6 years ago

I had a vacant listing that had a squirrel that managed to get in the chimney and die.  The smell was overwhelming!

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) over 6 years ago

Jay- That looks awful! I hope the rest of the house was in better shape.

Posted by Amanda S. Davidson, Alexandria Virginia Homes For Sale (Amanda Davidson Real Estate Group) over 6 years ago

You don't see many TV antennas these days, but I did see one driving through Braemar yesterday.  Stuck out like a sore thumb.  As for chimneys being capped, that is much less obvious.  Thank God for home inspectors like you.

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) over 6 years ago

Jay -- the cap apparently was doing one of its intended purposes -- keeping the water out since the bottom material is totally dry.  Or maybe it just doesn't get wet enough to get that far down.

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) over 6 years ago

Jay, it would make for a nice chimney fire---or it might just smolder FOREVER

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 6 years ago

Randy - if there's room!  I think that flue might just be full to the brim!

Brian - it is very important to have these old chimneys looked at completely before use, if not simply put in a metal flue and be sure things are alright.

Tom - thanks, and total hazard, and apparently not used for years.

Kathryn - I opened a flue once during an inspection and a poor, dessicated squirrel fell out right in my face, bouncing on the metal grate in the fireplace!  I lost about 2 months of my life and everyone thought it pretty funny!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

The house was very nice Amanda, and the subject of my two previous blogs.

Chris Ann - Breamar!  Why!?  You have to wonder where the bought the thing!

Steven - in that regard it is a fine installation, angled well and diverting water from way around the flue.  But, over time, other things have made their way in!

Der Shadow - I bet you're right!  Like a big pile of tires!  Forever smoking.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Jay, thanks for sharing such good information.  Proper capping can so easily prevent further issues.

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 6 years ago

Even though it's not used now, it would be good to cap it right Chris.  You are correct.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Or you could remove the chimney. Those bricks could make a nice patio. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 6 years ago

Wow they would Jim!  Then the patio would become a "feature" when the house is sold!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Not only that, but the proper cover would probably be easier to install, it would look better, and it would only cost about $25. 

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 6 years ago

Yep, four screws!  Not much easier than that.  And it holds too!

Of course, Reuben's Chimney Cappers has to be called to get that puppy up there, and they don't cost $25...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

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